The motorcycle industry needs to adapt, become more inclusive and promote a more positive image to the 'general' public.
As is almost always the case, there are multiple reasons why the industry is struggling to attract new riders, both male and female. There's no doubt that one of the major contributors to the lack of younger riders is due to the fact that the modern generation don't seem that interested in motorcycles.
It's worth considering why this may be and the most obvious reason is the simplest, millennials have less money available to them than other generations had at the same point in life, meaning that motorcycles are a luxury that few can afford. We can all remember in our youth, bikes were affordable on the 'Never Never' (Hire Purchase) and in fact were bought as transport firstly before the passion grew.
Maybe the hoops that potential riders have to jump through in order to get a license in the first place are too off-putting to all but the most determined people. The test process needs to be simplified, riders need to be better trained, not regulated out of existence.
Other possible causes include increasing urbanisation, which means that more and more youngsters will rely on public transport rather than any kind of vehicle. There is also the fact that they will be aware of the perceived dangers of motorcycle riding due to un-informed public beliefs, which may make them more wary of riding and buying bikes. The fact is, with modern electronics, advanced tyre and braking technology, motorcycles have probably never been safer to ride than now.
Manufacturers must help improve the desire of motorcycles for the younger market, maybe bringing in cheaper starter models to build passion and brand loyalty. Manufacturers must also change public perception and make the world of motorcycling a far more friendly and inclusive place to enjoy with friends and family.
Motorcyclists need to be willing to adopt new technologies. Electric bikes are currently scorned, but the inevitable fact is, this is an in-escapable future for all of us. We've ridden some pretty powerful electric bikes and they are equal in fun and thrill to a petrol engined bike. Sure, the vibrations and noise just aren't the same, but approach riding an electric bike with a different outlook and new pleasures emerge. Bring it on we say, once they become mainstream, power, performance and range will increase year on year.
One of the most critical actions necessary to improving the future of motorcycling is encouraging more women to take part. If just 20% of current riders were able to bring a new rider into the mix every year, the shift would be dramatic.
The future is all about inclusion, encouragement and unity. I've been riding for over 40 years and to be honest, biking has always being about inclusion, encouragement and unity. We do see tribes within the motorcycling umbrella for example, sports bike riders may not want to nod at adventure riders or cruiser riders. But together we are stronger, together we can promote motorcycling, together we can encourage younger people to come and enjoy biking and all that it brings to your life, together we can lobby government and manufacturers to give us the things WE want.
Dealers need to become more of a social hub before everything gets driven online and and the personal, friendly touch is removed and bikes simply become another commodity. These machines are a passionate purchase and ownership of a bike is much more than that, it truly does get under your skin.
So come on baby boomer generation, let's get the young guns riding, they will thank you for it :)